Press Release

IACHR Establishes Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Venezuela (MESEVE)

October 21, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it has created the Special Follow-Up Mechanism for Venezuela (MESEVE) to strengthen the use of its protection and monitoring mechanisms and respond in an effective, timely manner to the new challenges posed by the serious human rights crisis in the country.

The IACHR has been monitoring the situation in Venezuela closely since 2002, when it made an official visit to the country. In the reports it issued on Venezuela in 2003 and 2009, the IACHR expressed concern over the gradual deterioration of the human rights situation and democratic institutions. It has also been monitoring the situation in Venezuela through its different instruments and has made progress on analyzing petitions and cases concerning the country. Furthermore, given how democratic institutions in the country have been deteriorating since 2005, the IACHR included Venezuela in its list of countries with the most concerning human rights situations in the Americas in chapter 4 of its annual report.

When this crisis began to worsen in 2016, the IACHR stepped up its monitoring efforts in the country. Since then, it has sent 15 letters requesting information from the state, which represents a 25% increase over the average for 2002–2015. It has also issued 69 press releases (of which 25 have been released over the course of 2019) expressing grave concern over the situation in the country.

Since 2017, the IACHR has operated a Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit (SACROI) to articulate different IACHR mechanisms for responding to the grave situation in Venezuela. That same year, after a comprehensive evaluation of the serious political, economic, and social crisis in the country, and in response to requests from civil society, the IACHR decided to draft a third country report on Venezuela. Entitled “Democratic Institutions, the Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Venezuela,” the report provides detailed, extensive documentation of the situation in Venezuela and analyses how the profound weakening of democratic institutions has impacted the Venezuelan population’s enjoyment of their human rights. It also documents the alarming increase in repression, torture, deaths at the hands of state agents, imprisonment for political reasons, violence, and citizen security, among other factors.

The SACROI’s actions have also included prioritizing the processing and analysis of petitions and cases concerning Venezuela. From 2002 to 2015, the SACROI opened an average of 24 petitions per year for processing, the number that increased to 50 between 2016 and 2018, and has risen to 90 so far in 2019. The IACHR has also decided to submit eight cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (of which four were submitted in 2019), almost double the annual average for the previous period. Furthermore, it has granted 42 precautionary measures since 2016, more than for the entire 2002–2015 period, including 19 in 2019. These measures speak to the coordinated, comprehensive efforts the IACHR is making to respond through its different mandates to the most serious aspects of the grave human rights crisis that Venezuela is experiencing. The IACHR has also granted a large number of public hearings on the human rights situation and on precautionary measures and cases concerning Venezuela, which represent a 40% increase on the previous year. The IACHR has held 36 hearings since 2016.

The president of the IACHR, Esmeralda de Troitiño, explained that “in connection with these initiatives and given how the situation in the country has continued to worsen and the increase in requests for the IACHR to provide a comprehensive response to this, we have created a special follow-up mechanism for Venezuela (MESEVE). The aim of MESEVE is to strengthen the work carried out by the IACHR through its different mandates, especially with regard to the protection and monitoring of the human rights situation and following up on compliance with the IACHR’s recommendations to the Venezuelan state.”

Specifically, MESEVE will be responsible for following up closely on the situation in the country in order to evaluate requests for precautionary measures and follow-up on those that are granted; prioritizing the petitions that are received, drafting admissibility and merits reports, and bringing cases before the Inter-American Court; monitoring the human rights situation in the country closely through its different mechanisms and by reinforcing the capacities of these mechanisms; monitoring the situation of Venezuelan migrants on the ground in several countries in the region; systematically documenting human rights violations, following up on IACHR recommendations to the state, and helping to strengthen civil society organizations; and providing guidance, consultancy services, and information on the human rights situation in Venezuela as part of its role as a principal organ of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The rapporteur for Venezuela, Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren, explained that “as part of MESEVE’s work, the IACHR will draft two reports: one on the human rights situation in the country and another on the forced migration of Venezuelans.”

According to the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Paulo Abrão, “to go about its work, MESEVE will collaborate with a range of stakeholders, including victims and their families, civil society organizations, the OAS, the organs of the United Nations human rights system, states, universities, and other organizations working to promote and defend human rights in Venezuela.”

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 267/19